The Infinite Matrix

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  Viper Wire by Richard Kadrey





She's going to leave me. I know this for a fact. She's too beautiful for me. Too witty, too at ease in the world and social situations. She knows wine. She speaks French. She can see a Versace dress in a magazine and knock off a copy for herself in a weekend. Her friends are as sparkling and jewel-like as she. I can't keep up. Each night we're together, I feel her growing tired of my solidity. My lead-footed drabness.

"It's Bernice's birthday this weekend," she says. "There's going to be a big party at Jimmy's warehouse."

"Sounds great," I say.

She smiles, and says, "I'll pick up some wine." But I hear it as, "Liar."

I know she's already halfway out the door, but I can't lose her completely. I need something to remember her by. One night while she's asleep I take the extra sharp Japanese gardening knife I use for boning chicken and carefully remove one of her kidneys. She's a ridiculously healthy creature and will never miss it.

I wrap the kidney lovingly in colored tissue paper and store it with a sachet in the back of the refrigerator. I close up the incision using one of her sewing needles and some dental floss. She's a pale girl and will never notice the white floss against her skin. In the morning, a little guilty, I get up early and make us a big breakfast.

Over the next few couple of weeks, I take more mementos. Fingernail clippings. That sensitive spot at the base of her spine. Her spleen. A birthmark shaped like Martin Sheen.

And then she's gone. There's no last fight. No final confrontation or brouhaha, just a quiet acceptance by both of us that this is it. There's some quick packing. An awkward hug. A mention that she'd come back for the rest of her stuff in a few days, and she's gone.

Shattered, I sit down at the computer to email to my brother about what's happened. When I try to hit the space bar, one of my thumbs is missing. And I can't remember how to spell "Matthew." I scratch my head and can feel an incision all the way around my scalp, just at the hairline.


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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.

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